Thursday, August 6, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Nostalgia Ain't What It's Cracked Up to Be

The Throwback Thursday meme brings me to the subject of nostalgia.

Just in the three years since I last wrote this post:
Email?  (replaced, for many of us, by social media)
Cable TV? (replaced, for many of us, by streaming online)

Time (and technology) moves on.

All of us, eventually, succumb to the emotion of nostalgia.  Perhaps, technically, nostalgia is not an emotion. But, when you realize many of the people around you have no knowledge of the technology you grew up with....well, it's a bit humbling. And emotional.

So let's take a nostalgic look at this slightly outdated post from 2012.

Nostalgia Ain't What It's Cracked Up to Be

Pining for the "good old days" is probably as old as humanity is.  But today, we have electronic ways of expressing it - especially, for the last 15 years or so - email.

Anyone over the age of - oh, 45 or so - has gotten these emails. You know "those emails": the emails full of photos of Howdy Doody and church keys and reminiscences of old black and white TV show.  Memories of idyllic childhood straight out of Dick and Jane books try to get you to pine for the "good old days".

Yeah, right.  And that is because there is no such thing as the 'good old days".  Never has been.

If yoiu, gentle reader, are in your 20's and 30's, just about 20 or so years that nostalgia mosquito is going to bite you.  One day you'll find yourself frustrated with technology that your 10 year old child uses effortlessly.  Or you'll suddenly realize that TV shows (if they even have TV in 20 years) just aren't made the way they used to be.

That "my childhood is a museum" feeling that I used to get talking to my son will be your feeling, too.

And the thing is:  "those days" weren't ideal.   Not everything was great.  Not everything has gone downhill.

So exactly what it is about the "good old days" that I don't miss? . For my younger readers: you get one point for every item where you actually knew what I was talking about without using the link.  Ready?  Let's go!

1.  Coke-bottle eyeglasses.  If you wear glasses and have poor vision (like me) I am thankful daily for ultra light lenses that don't leave permanent sores on your nose and your ears.  And which don't break because the lenses were made of glass.

2. Typewriters.  I learned to type on a manual typewriter in Mrs. Gottlieb's 7th grade typing class.  Mrs. Gottlieb was the most feared teacher in my school.  She put tape on all the keys so you couldn't cheat and find the correct key by glancing down.   Typewriters?  Well, if you didn't have one, you'd have to pay someone to type your term papers.  It was a complex process:  inserting paper into a roller, rolling it into position, setting the margins, typing, and when you heard a bell, you knew you were about 5 spaces from the end.  Time to hypehenate, then return the carriage to where it started, and type your next sentence.

3.  Carbon Paper.   And  onionskin.
If you needed copies, you just didn't tell your word processing software to print multiple copies.  You took special paper, and inserted carbon paper between each sheet - and heaven help you if you made a typo and had to correct all of those pages.  That was an art form in itself.

4.  Old fashioned medicine.  I'm probably going to get an earful about this.  But, let's put it this way.  I have a medical condition, easily treated today for many people with diet, exercise and medication.  My grandmother died from the same condition in 1927 because there was no treatment.  Things wouldn't have been much better in the 1950's.

Modern medicine has a lot of problems, no doubt about it.  But enough of us are walking around right now who may not be on this earth if we hadn't expanded on the medical knowledge of the 1950's.

5.  Pup tents.  My first camping adventure was in a small canvas tent borrowed from a fellow college student.   Guess what.  It rained. Do you know what happens when it is raining and you touch the walls of your canvas pup tent, which, from the weight of the water, has sagged so the entire tent is inches away from you?  What happens is that you spend the rest of the stormy evening in the ladies rest room of the campground.  Which, in this case at least, wasn't a latrine.  Give me a modern tent made of synthetic materials any day.

You'll notice I am talking about technology and not culture, not people's attitudes.  There's enough material there for another blog post.

Do you feel nostalgic for your childhood or teenage years?  What don't you miss about it?


  1. I miss the smell of carbon paper - does that make me weird?

  2. The older I get, the more nostalgic, it seems. As you say, though, many things have improved over the years, I started wearing glasses in 1962 and am most grateful for the changes there. Computers are wonderful and open up the entire world to us. I do miss things like milk and bread delivery, popcorn with real butter at the movies and gas station attendants. Plus, it seems to me that customer service used to be a lot better in the "old days" and people were more efficient, or, is that a skewed perception because I'm now a grumpy old woman? ☺

  3. Hi Alana,
    Thanks for the memories down the nostalgia lane!! Enjoyed :)

  4. I had my first pair of contact lenses at 14 and truly had a magical childhood that centered around kids, fun and (my sister still makes fun of me) my bff and I loved to read
    But I don't like those emails or stuff in facebook. If I'm going to remininsce I much prefer my college days, 20's and 30's because living in NY was something amazing then. At least to me. And I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm jealous of myself for what I looked like then. But I like myself more now so....

  5. One day I was covering a theater class. They had a bunch of props to play with. One of the props was an old rotary phone. At some point the 8th graders came up to me and asked me how one would dial such a thing. I showed them.

    Hanging out with teens makes one feel old before their time. (And for the record, I do not have streaming capability on my TV, so I still have cable.)


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